The Latest: Ohio man disheartened North Korea holds student

AP News
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Posted: Jan 22, 2016 8:16 PM

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The latest on the detention of an American student in North Korea (all times local):

8:30 a.m. Saturday

A man who was held by North Korea for nearly six months in 2014 says he's "surprised and disheartened" to learn a fellow southwest Ohio resident has been detained there.

Jeffrey Fowle (fowl) says he sympathizes with the family of detained American university student Otto Warmbier (WORM'-bir). Fowle says his thoughts and prayers are with them.

North Korea announced Friday it arrested the University of Virginia student for committing an unspecified "hostile act" while visiting the country. The U.S. Department of State says it's aware of media reports a U.S. citizen was detained.

Warmbier is from the Cincinnati area. Fowle lives about 40 miles north in Miamisburg. He says he's considering reaching out to Warmbier's relatives. He says he'd want them to know he was treated "reasonably well" while detained.

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This item has been corrected to show Fowle is from southwest Ohio, not southeast Ohio.

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6 a.m. Saturday

Ohio's governor is urging President Barack Obama's administration to push North Korea to release a U.S. university student who is being held there.

Republican presidential candidate John Kasich (KAY'-sik) has written to the Democratic president asking that "every effort" be made to secure release of Otto Warmbier (WORM'-bir) and that his Cincinnati-area family be kept apprised of the efforts.

The State Department said little about the case Friday, other than it was "aware of media reports" that a U.S. citizen was detained.

Kasich says North Korea should either produce immediate evidence of Warmbier's alleged anti-state activities or release him immediately. North Korea announced his arrest Friday.

Kasich says in his letter released Friday afternoon that North Korea arrests U.S. citizens for diplomatic negotiation motives or to antagonize the United States.

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12:30 a.m. Saturday

An attorney who represented another southwest Ohio native detained by North Korea advises caution for those involved with a U.S. university student who is now being held.

Tim Tepe (TEEP) of Lebanon, Ohio, says he learned while client Jeffrey Fowle (FOWL) was held for nearly six months in 2014 that North Korean authorities tightly control information and monitor comments being reported. He says family members and others should be careful not to say anything that might jeopardize negotiations.

Fowle was detained after leaving a Bible he said he hoped would get to "underground" Christians.

Tepe says Fowle is "doing wonderful" and seems to have adjusted well back home. The married father of three attends church regularly with his family and returned to work with the city of Moraine street department near Dayton.

North Korea announced Friday that it arrested Ohio native Otto Warmbier for committing an unspecified "hostile act" while visiting the country.

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11:30 p.m.

Ohio's governor has called North Korea's detention of a U.S. university student from Ohio "inexcusable."

Republican presidential candidate John Kasich (KAY'-sik) said in a message on his Twitter account that the student should be "released & returned immediately."

Kasich has been in New Hampshire campaigning ahead of the state's Feb. 9 primary.

Wyoming City Schools spokeswoman Susanna Max said the arrested student, Otto Warmbier (WORM'-bir), was the salutatorian of his 2013 graduating class and played soccer for Wyoming High School in the suburb north of Cincinnati.

North Korea announced Friday that Warmbier was arrested for committing a "hostile act" while visiting the authoritarian country.

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11 p.m.

The U.S. university student North Korea says it has arrested was a top student at a suburban Cincinnati high school.

Wyoming City Schools spokeswoman Susanna Max says Otto Warmbier (WORM'-bir) was the salutatorian of his 2013 graduating class in the highly rated public school north of Cincinnati. He also played soccer for Wyoming High School.

Max says school officials are in communication with Warmbier's family, which includes two sisters in Wyoming schools. She says the school district asks that everyone respect the family's privacy.

Another southwest Ohio native was detained by North Korea in 2014. Jeffrey Fowle of the Dayton area was held nearly six months. The married father of three children said he was held after leaving a Bible he hoped would get to "underground" Christians.

North Korea announced Friday that Warmbier committed a "hostile act" while visiting the authoritarian country.

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6:40 p.m.

State-run North Korean television has broadcast a statement about the detention of an American student in Pyongyang.

A KRT news reader said in a Friday broadcast that "according to information available from a relevant institution, Warmbier Otto Frederick, student of Virginia University of the U.S., was arrested while perpetrating a hostile act against the DPRK after entering it under the guise of tourist for the purpose of bringing down the foundation of its single-minded unity with the tacit connivance of the U.S. government and under its manipulation. He is now under investigation."

It was identical to an earlier dispatch from the North's official Korean Central News Agency announcing the arrest.

North Korea has sometimes listed English-language surnames first, in the Korean style. The University of Virginia's online student directory lists someone named Otto Frederick Warmbier as an undergraduate commerce student.

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5:30 p.m.

A China-based tour company has confirmed that one if its clients has been detained in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.

Young Pioneer Tours, which includes foreigners living in China who travel to North Korea, says the family of the American has been informed and the group has been touch with the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, which handles U.S. interests in the country.

The group says they are assisting the U.S. State Department closely in this situation.

They identified the man by his first name Otto, saying, "We would appreciate Otto's and his family's privacy being respected and we hope his release can be secured as soon as possible."

Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency reported that authorities are investigating the student who it says entered the North as a tourist with a plot to undermine a unity among the North Koreans. It said the student has links to the U.S. government.

KCNA identified the person as Warmbier Otto Frederick, a student at Virginia University. North Korea has sometimes listed English-language surnames first.